After watching the Hall of Fame inductions this weekend, it’s really surreal to see my contemporaries being inducted and honored for their accomplishments. As I was reflecting back about my battles with Andre Reed as he was giving his speech, I thought about how much respect I have for what he and his teammates accomplished compared to what my teammates and I accomplished in Houston during the same period. At the time, they were just opponents. But, now I see what made them and their relationships so special.
Here are 5 observations we can learn from 2 Hall of Famers that we can apply to our own lives and relationships to eventually have Hall of Fame relationships.
1. You have to be COMMITTED. A football team or an individual who doesn’t really care whether or not it wins or loses is not very committed. The exact same thing applies to a relationship. Imagine if Andre Reed, Jim Kelly and the rest of the Buffalo Bills played without a sense of urgency and commitment. Imagine how bad your favorite football team would look (SIDENOTE: Actually, that’s the primary reason we weren’t as good as we could have been). Not only would they give up after every missed play, fumble or interception…they would give up on the game entirely. This team would have been satisfied with just going to the Super Bowl once and not 4 years consecutively.
Two people who are in a relationship that are ready to throw in the towel at the slightest upset are not committed either. In a relationship (just like on a team), the doors need to be locked from the outside so that the neither can easily walk away when there is a problem. It forces them to face the issue at hand and work through it rather than escape the situation. Unfortunately, there are no binding contracts (outside of marriage) like there are in football nor are there guarantees.
2. YOU have to RESPECT each other. This respect goes both ways and is all inclusive in the tough times, good times, mistakes and touchdowns. I heard Andre Reed saying how much he respected his QB Jim Kelly during his Hall of Fame induction speech. His total focus was not letting his QB down when he would throw him the ball. That’s the main reason they helped guide the Buffalo Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances and are both in the Hall of Fame. Good or bad, no blame just respect. However, without respect, the players would all be blaming each other for losing games and nothing positive would come from it. It would be chaos on the field. Everybody would be doing their own thing, refusing to accept any responsibility. There would be an atmosphere of total selfishness. Likewise, a relationship where two do not respect one another will also be a relationship filled with chaos.
3. YOU have to TRUST each other. Members of a football team such as Jim Kelly and Andre Reed must develop a trust relationship with each other. When the quarterback throws the ball to the wide receiver, he needs to trust that the wide receiver is going to do his best to catch the ball and gain yardage for the team. The term Andre would use (which has gone down in history by the way) to Jim was “12 + 83 = 6”. Translation: YOU + ME = TD! Likewise, in a relationship, it is essential that you trust one another…knowing that all decisions made are made for the good of all. In any kind of trusting relationship, the relationship will survive setbacks and overcome obstacles, knowing that the good of the relationship is always the ending goal. Even as Jim goes through cancer treatment, Andre is still there for him even though life called this play.
4. YOU have to COMMUNICATE. Without communication, No one would know what was going on. Jim might be going for a TD and Andre for a first down and the play ends up in an interception for the other team. It’s not that they weren’t very good or were unprepared; there was a lack of communication. Likewise, in a relationship, communication is absolutely essential. Miscommunication is the primary cause of most bad plays in a football game after just not being good enough (see: Houston Oilers, 1992). Misunderstandings are the cause of a lot of relationship conflicts, as well, and could be avoided with better communication.
5. YOU have to have FAITH in ALL SITUATIONS. This one is a little personal. In 1992, the Houston Oilers team I played for was arguably the most talented team in the NFL that year. In the first round of the playoffs we faced the Buffalo Bills after beating them handily the week before and knocking some of their star players out of the game including Jim Kelly. Early in the 3rd quarter, we were ahead by a score of 35-3. Not to painfully rehash, but Andre went on to score 3 touchdowns in the 2nd half after being totally shut down the last 6 quarters and they eventually won 41-38 in overtime.
Just like in relationships, you have to have faith in each other that together you can accomplish anything no matter how bleak the situation or how the naysayers and fans begin to boo and leave the stadium. Ultimately, this is the most important trait to possess because we will all make mistakes, but no one make a mistake on purpose. We overcome and persevere until ultimate victory is reached.
A Hall of Fame career is never easy to achieve, but is always a goal every player and coach ultimately strives for. But by following some simple rules, you can make your relationship a Hall of Fame relationship.